The world in which associations communicate with members and other audiences has changed dramatically, and we need to change our internal communication goals and processes accordingly.
All associations are somewhere on the curation maturity ladder. (If you want to learn more, tune in to a webinar that Elizabeth and I are leading on July 1, 2020 at 2:00 Eastern time, sponsored by Impexium)
Start by identifying where you are today, and then move gradually up the maturity ladder. Even if you haven’t been focused on content curation, you are still probably gathering and sharing industry news with your members—an effort likely led by your communications or publications team.
That’s the first rung on the ladder. The next rung is to be more selective about what you share, formalizing the process for making those choices.
The third level is to allow members to choose what they receive. This involves new skillsets on your association’s part, better technology used to deliver this content (whether through an e-newsletter or web pages), and members’ willingness to actually make those selections.
At the next step, more powerful technology, likely driven by artificial intelligence, will deliver content based on members’ actual behavior as well as your decisions; this is an easier effort for the audience, so it will likely be received well and have high engagement.
Level 5 on the ladder is adding a true editorial voice, providing context that only your association can. This is a time commitment for your staff, but will result in an endless stream of useful, relevant content.
The next rung up from that is to refine your organization’s voice and ensure that the voice of your curated content is consistent with the organization’s overall messaging and tone. Bringing the curated content into the fold of your organization’s content means a much more powerful experience for members. And you may find that more departments embrace the approach of curating content.
The very top spot is reserved for associations that add transparency to their curated content, showing members how they selected the content they share.
To spot when and how to proceed:
- Use the analytics from your existing communications
- Conduct member survey about what kinds of information your members want
Members’ information needs are changing quickly, so keep a close eye on your analytics, and revisit the approach every year.
Your association’s goal should be to provide value to your audiences by helping them make sense of information and their environment. Rather than being only writers, the communications department has to become the organization’s team of managing editors – setting the schedules, developing and enforcing style, making sure that the right people are disseminating and receiving the right information. They need to be editors-in-chief, planning, assigning and overseeing rather than doing.